The Affordable Footwear Initiative (AFI) Coalition applauded action by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Ensign (R-NV) to formally re-introduce the bipartisan Affordable Footwear Act (S. 730).  The legislation would eliminate the regressive and hidden tax paid on most lower-cost and children’s shoes, or about 60 percent of the shoes sold in the United States each year.  Nine senators have joined Senator Ensign as co-sponsors of this important and timely legislation. A similar piece of legislation is expected to be introduced in the House later this month.

The Affordable Footwear Act is common sense legislation that would provide tax relief for hardworking American families who unwittingly pay upwards of 40 percent of the cost of a shoe at the cash register to cover the import duty, also known as the shoe tax, on shoes made outside the United States .  Since 99 percent of the shoes U.S. consumers purchase each year are produced outside the United States , there is no way for hardworking American families to avoid this tax.

“The re-introduction of the Affordable Footwear Act is a great step forward in growing our economy,” said Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “This legislation will bring direct relief to families, workers, manufacturers, and businesses at the right time.  I applaud Senators Cantwell and Ensign for their commitment to strengthening America ’s economy and I look forward to continuing our work with them to ensure this bipartisan bill is swiftly passed.”

 “FDRA is pleased with the re-introduction of the Affordable Footwear Act and pledges strong support in favor of its passage,” stated Matt Priest, President of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.  “This legislation would end what is nothing more than a discriminatory tax on lower and middle-income families and provide economic relief at a time when it’s needed most.  These duties are obsolete, and it is high time they are abolished.  I wish to thank Senators Cantwell and Ensign for their efforts on behalf of American families and consumers.  FDRA looks forward to working with all of the bill’s co-sponsors to secure a speedy enactment.”

"The National Retail Federation urges Congress to pass the Affordable Footwear Act as soon as possible," NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said. "This legislation would finally eliminate an outmoded, hidden and regressive tax that needlessly drives up the cost of the majority of shoes and other footwear sold in the United States . Substantially lowering their cost would provide some much-needed relief for American families struggling through the current economic crisis."

“I applaud Senators Ensign and Cantwell for re-introducing the Affordable Footwear Act, important legislation to eliminate regressive shoe tariffs paid for by American consumers,” said Sandy Kennedy, President of the Retail Industry Leaders Association.  “Now, more than ever, consumers need relief from a tariff that serves no purpose today except to raise the cost of a basic necessity.  We look forward to working with Congress to help advance this legislation.”

The Affordable Footwear Act would eliminate about $800 million in duties on children’s and low-priced shoes.  At a time when it is necessary to restore consumer confidence and rebuild the economy, repealing the shoe tax will help pass as much as $2 billion in savings to U.S. consumers – savings that hardworking American families will see every time they purchase a pair of shoes for their children or themselves. 

In 2008, the U.S. government collected over $1.7 billion dollars in duties on imported shoes, far more than any other duty collected on any other single imported good.  The added cost to cover the duties directly resulted in consumers paying almost $5 billion dollars more than they needed to at the store for their shoes.  Undeniably, shoes are a life necessity and the hidden, regressive shoe tax is an additional burden on hardworking American families at a time when they can least afford it.

Given the current economic strain that threatens further U.S. job losses, quick passage of the Affordable Footwear Act would protect and create jobs in the U.S. footwear industry.  Footwear brands and retailers would be able to stave off further downsizing through increased sales revenues while passing along savings to consumers as the duty costs are removed from the price of footwear at the retail level.  In addition, because the legislation does not affect the few remaining footwear items still manufactured in the United States , and even provides additional protections for those items, the Affordable Footwear Act would protect domestic footwear manufacturing jobs.

In the 110th Congress, the bipartisan Affordable Footwear Act was co-sponsored by over one-third of the U.S. House of Representatives and 15 senators, including 21 Members of the Ways and Means Committee and six Members of the Finance Committee.

To view a complete list of co-sponsors and learn more about the Affordable Footwear Act visit www.EndTheShoeTax.org.

The Affordable Footwear Initiative is a coalition dedicated to eliminating the hidden, regressive and high import tariffs on lower- to moderately-priced footwear and children’s shoes. Coalition members include the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), National Retail Federation (NRF) and many of the individual member companies represented by these associations.  Visit the AAFA-sponsored coalition website, www.EndTheShoeTax.org for more information.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market.  AAFA's mission is to promote and enhance its members' competitiveness, productivity and profitability in the global market by minimizing regulatory, commercial, political, and trade restraints.